Murrell starts Fax reign with a victory

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Scott Murrell’s reign as Halifax’s player-coach began with a win as his side downed a freewheeling Barrow side 30-24 at the Shay.

The Raiders, with nothing to play for but their own amusement, took risk after risk with the ball, an approach that saw them lead 12-4 approaching half time.

But with Murrell himself pulling the strings, Fax eased 24-12 ahead, only for their visitors to level at 24-24 with around 10 minutes remaining.

In the end, it took a penalty from Murrell and a well-taken late try from Callum Casey to close out a win that, coupled with Doncaster’s home defeat by Batley, clinched third place and a trip to Featherstone in the play offs next weekend.

Earlier, Fax had the better of the opening minutes without ever really managing to dominate their opponents in attack.

But they drew first blood on the scoreboard when Casey, playing at centre in place of the injured Steve Tyrer, found Tommy Saxton with an offload that left the winger with the simplest of tries.

Murrell’s conversion attempt drifted wide and Barrow, very much against the run of play, went ahead in the 26th minute when Brad Marwood pounced on a bouncing ball and winger Ryan Shaw added the conversion.

Things went further awry when full back Ryan Fieldhouse threw an interception pass that saw Shaw put Barrow 4-12 ahead.

But Murrell conjured an improbable kick out of a two-man tackle that set up Saxton for his second try of the game four minutes before half time.

The captain-coach sent Fieldhouse over the line with a perfectly disguised pass early in the second half, before prop Tony Tonks powered in to put Fax 18-12 ahead.

And when Luke Adamson raced onto Murrell’s beautifully disguised kick, Murrell converting, Fax led 24-12.

At that stage, the game looked won, but tries from substitute Aaron Lloyd and centre Max Wiper, both converted by the immaculate Ryan Shaw, levelled the scores at 24-24.

Fax recovered their composure though, Murrell coolly converting his penalty chance before Casey’s try, inevitably from Murrell’s pass, secured the points.

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Potts, Cowling, Casey, Saxton; Murrell, Mennell; Brooks, Kaye, Ambler, Manning, Robinson, Adamson. Subs: Tonks, Bracek, Holden, Spencer

Barrow: Bradley Goulding; Shaw, Hambley, Wiper, Grant; Marwood, Campbell; Mossop, Davies, Briscoe, Toal, Dwyer. Subs: Lloyd, Butler, Burke, Jones

Referee: Tom Crashley